Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. It’s symphonic, seductive, resolute, yearning.
  2. Rachel's has produced one hell of a gorgeous concept album - a sort of Dark Side Of The Moon for the Debussy set.
  3. Rachel's create classical music for people who listen to bands like Boards Of Canada. [Nov 2003, p.100]
  4. With the field recordings, the release at times resembles the more sublime moments of Set Fire To Flames, but with more strings and a slightly less bleak sound.
  5. Rachel's albums are consistently greater than the sum of their parts.
  6. Like David Byrne's underrated orchestral epic The Forest or Philip Glass' Koyaanisqatsi, Systems/Layers is cerebral and human, transporting you without insulting your intelligence.
  7. Rachel’s can effortlessly create beauty, but what saves the record from saccharine blandness are the arrangements that almost distrust the group’s strengths, refusing to leave beautiful passages uncomplicated by dissonance or some kind of sonic distraction.
  8. A meditation on modern urban life that lets the city shine with mystery, menace and grace. [Jan 2004, p.118]
  9. 80
    A modern soundtrack for city life--an aural survival pack that pulls out moments of delicate beauty from all the shit and cacophony. [Dec 2003, p.122]
  10. It's a brilliant ambient musical experience-- you can tune it out if you choose and it'll still enhance your surroundings, or you can engage yourself fully and allow it to positively hypnotize you.
  11. 74
    An occasionally haunting, more often inspiring and riveting collage of the group's complex avant-melodics given more human characteristics by the inclusion of familiar sounds. [#8, p.108]
  12. Despite its handful of flaws, Systems/Layers is rife with ideas, and delivers its message, however encoded, with elegance and ingenuity.
  13. 70
    Mostly, familiarly sombre patterns of piano and string quartet dominate this lovely album. [Dec 2003, p.118]
  14. It seems distinct from the discography that came before it (in both a good and a bad way), with intermittent moments definitely treading foreign waters, for both the band and its devoted followers.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Apr 9, 2012
    10
    It's been about 9 years since this album came out, and it still speaks to me in ways almost no other music ever has. I can only think of oneIt's been about 9 years since this album came out, and it still speaks to me in ways almost no other music ever has. I can only think of one other album that I'd equate its powers to... that album, and Systems/Layers, are my two favorite albums ever. However, they aren't the first two albums I'd claim to be classics when having a conversation with friends about seminal/classic albums in music history, because Rachel's are mine. They're not for everyone. This album hits nerves of mine with precision...nerves that I've always thought to be my idiosyncricies. Systems/Layers may not be what the world wants, but it's what I want. It's gracious beauty is comforting, mysterious, reflective, and so simple. If you think you're interested in Rachel's, you may find System/Layers as rewarding as I have. Give it a shot. Full Review »
  2. Ben
    Mar 17, 2008
    10
    When this album came out, it went almost un-noticed, but this CD demands listening. Imagine the ambient/chamber-group version of OK Computer. When this album came out, it went almost un-noticed, but this CD demands listening. Imagine the ambient/chamber-group version of OK Computer. It's subtle, nuanced, with perfectly set string arrangements, and all gorgeously recorded. This is not only a wonderful work of musical composition; the work put into systems/layers in the studio is just astounding. Worth it all the way. Full Review »
  3. [Anonymous]
    Feb 20, 2005
    7
    Every thing they do is consistently good.This is not quite as good as The Sea and Bells or Music for Egon Schiele.